Thursday, May 5, 2011

How to get to the Vulcan Mine in the Mojave National Preserve.

After the visit to Wee Thump the other day, I decided to try again to locate
the Vulcan Mine. I drove up a few years ago with my brother and wrote
about it here, a few years later I went back but had to turn around when the road got too bad for my low slung passenger car, due to the fact that desert
washes cross Forshay Pass Road in a couple of spots.

This time the road was not washed out and was actually in pretty good shape,
I don’t think I bottomed out once.

The drive all 4 miles of it is a steady uphill ride. I made it up to where I knew
the mine was located, by the huge tailing piles, and from Google Earth, but this
time I decided to attempt the climb up. But I knew I was in the right location, when I spotted the brown fencing put up recently by the park service.
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Why try to climb up this dangerous tailing pile, when you can just walk up this road below? By the way, I did climb up a little further to the right. I have a video below showing where I climbed up.
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The gate is locked to prevent vehicles from entering, you can easily walk around it on either side. Once past the gate,
turn right and you will see the road continues to the right, up and around the edge of the mine, following the fence, or you
can walk right down into the mine pit, by going through the open and unlocked gate.

So after a fairly risky climb up the hill, I made it to the top and walked uphill
toward the higher ground to get a better look from the outside of the fence. There was no doubt that the mine was found but I had not reached the open
pit yet.
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The mine pit is in the photo below, it really is more impressive in person, you feel grateful that the fence has been
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Another shot below.
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And behind you, the mountainside dug out, probably where they dug first, perhaps going from top to bottom.
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If I had to guess this must be 25 or so stories high looming above the
road following the fence which completely circumnavigates the Vulcan
Mine. This truly is a huge area fenced in.

At this point, having decided to not walk all the way around the pit, I turned back and looked for the way into the mine pit, and an easier way for folks to
gain entrance to it. Having read about the fencing project on the Mojave National Preserve site or from one of their quarterly news letters, I knew they
left a gate for folks to go into the pit if they wanted to. From my observation point above, I could see a road graded in following the edge, winding down and ending up at the water filled area at the bottom. Here is a video I made showing the way into the mine, and showing the entrance driveway from the main road.

Found another great spot for boondocking an rv as well just a little up the dirt
road from here.
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Looking down toward the entrance road up to the Vulcan Mine. This concrete slab will easily hold a 40 foot
class a rv. The next photo shows the entrance- think you could manage to pull in? I could bring a 40 foot bus all the way up to here, but for everyone else’s sake, they better not be on Forshay Pass Road with me, someone would have to pull over and it ain’t the bigger vehicle that pulls over.

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Here are a couple of photos taken in the vicinity of the “rv pad.”
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I don’t know what this foundation was for. Perhaps an outbuilding or shop.
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Lots of flowers blooming in the area.
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Bend over and sniff this if you dare.
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A large rat ran into this foundation and hid under the pile on the left side. Whatever you do is don’t go into old cabins
etc in the desert if you suspect rodents live in them, due to the danger of catching the hanta virus.
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Looking uphill toward the pass from near the rv pad.
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From near the driveway to the Vulcan Mine, looking up at the rv pad, see the dirt road looping right, turns left into
the rv pad.

Bonus video below taken at the pit area and looking up at the mountain side scooped out.

Video still as I first drove up, who knew that I could have parked and walked
right up to the mine. I am saving you guys a lot of time and trouble here.
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And another bonus video- how not to gain access to the Vulcan Mine.

That’s it, intrepid explorers. It is all laid out for you. Right now, even an rv
could drive up to the Vulcan Mine, probably easier than my car, because it is higher off the ground. And you’ll have a place to park it once you get there.
As you near the mine and see the giant tailings pile, the first dirt road up on the left leads to the boondocking spot I blogged about in the past here, the 2nd dirt road on left has a gate that is the way in to the mine. I just drove up a little farther where there was a large spot to park and above that is the new “rv
pad” mentioned here.

Enjoy the outing and don’t be surprised near dusk if you spot a large bobcat
as I know for a fact that one lives in this vicinity, my brother and I saw it a few years ago- and it was a big one!

Don’t forget to check out those tall sand dunes, the Kelso Dunes, that you will
see across the valley from the mine.

Be safe, take lots of water, turn off the air conditioning as you drive up the never ending uphill grade from Kelbaker Road.